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Jacques Rogge (l), Scott Blackmun Held A
20-Minute Meeting Monday In Vancouver
IN NEED OF REPAIR: In N.Y., Amy Schoenfeld noted USOC officials believe that they can "repair relationships at home and abroad" with Blackmun now on board. But the committee "has a lot of work to do." Former USOC Chief Communications Officer Mike Moran: "It's been a dysfunctional organization. The challenges it faces are the most significant to the American Olympic movement since the boycott of the Moscow games, which nearly killed the USOC." Blackmun said that the USOC is "unlikely to bid for the Games in 2020 or even 2022," but Schoenfeld noted the organization still must "keep domestic sponsors and viewers interested." It also must "repair its relationship" with the IOC and other national Olympic committees "while protecting money it receives from the international group" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/7).
Rogge Believes VANOC Can Avoid
Deficit Without Aid From IOC
DEALING WITH PROTESTS: Rogge yesterday said that the Vancouver Games "remain fair play -- within limits -- for protesters." Rogge: "We accept people protesting. That is a free democratic expression. What we want is no violence, and we want the people to respect the laws of the country, and then there is no problem" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/9). However, in Vancouver, Damian Inwood reports Olympic security police indicated that they "won't hesitate to 'ramp up' their forces at a moment's notice to deal with illegal protests when an anti-Games rally heads for B.C. Place Stadium on Friday." RCMP Staff Sergeant and Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit spokesperson Mike Cote: "We're not going to stand by and wait until things get out of hand." Inwood notes an estimated 1,000-1,500 protesters "plan to rally at 3 p.m. at Vancouver Art Gallery before heading to B.C. Place" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/9).
CONCERNED ABOUT DOPING: In Vancouver, Jeff Lee reports Rogge also "expressed concern" about the high number of Russian athletes "who have tested positive for doping offences in advance" of the Vancouver Games. He said that he is "aware of the problem and raised it" with Russia President Dmitry Medvedev. Rogge also "defended the right" of Russia biathlete Olga Medvedtseva to "participate at the Vancouver Games after serving a suspension for using drugs" during the '06 Turin Games (VANCOUVER SUN, 2/9).
LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE? The CP's Gary Mason noted while NBC "expects to lose money televising" the Games, it "also anticipates near record-setting audience numbers." NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol said that the network is expected to lose around $200M because "negotiations with advertisers took place amid a profound recessionary environment." He said that companies "were willing to buy ads," but just "not at prices NBC was asking." Ebersol: "They reached a line in the sand and they said 'that's it, we're not going to pay over it.'" But he "doesn't think it reflects, as some do, a loss of faith in the Olympics as a vehicle to sell products." Ebersol is "quite bullish about the Games" overall. He said, "This is only the second Winter Olympics in history that will have over 200 million watching -- only Lillehammer had more" (CP, 2/5). Meanwhile, Canada's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium said that it is "too soon to tell" how it will do financially during the Games. Broadcast rights in Canada for the Games jumped to C$28M for the '06 Turin Olympics from C$12M for Lillehammer in '94, and hit a "record-breaking" C$90M for Vancouver (TORONTO STAR, 2/9).
NBC Plans To Stream Only About 400 Hours Of
Live Events, Down From Beijing Coverage In '08
ARE THE OLYMPICS STILL VALUABLE? In Ft. Worth, Gil LeBreton noted questions are "being raised about the relevance of an expensive, three-week global sports carnival." These will be the "first Olympics shot entirely" in HD, and "that can't hurt." But the "challenge for NBC will be how to present the bell cow of every Winter Olympics, figure skating, when the U.S. women are not expected to be in the medal hunt." LeBreton: "The Olympic Winter Games are back in North America, back in prime time. Ready and waiting for your high-definition scrutiny. Let the $820 million TV gamble begin" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/7).
STILL IN DEMAND: In a cover-story for BROADCASTING & CABLE, Marisa Guthrie notes despite the "bleak financial outlook" for the Vancouver Games, NBC is one of several networks "considering lining up for a shot at the next round" of U.S. Olympic rights. The worth of "such an endeavor is increasingly uncertain," and the next package of the '14 Sochi and '16 Rio de Janeiro Games "is a mixed bag for potential U.S. rights holders." Sochi is "eight hours ahead of New York," but NBC Olympics Exec VP & Exec Producer David Neal contends that Sochi is "nevertheless attractive and shares similarities" with the '02 Salt Lake City Games. Sports media consultant Neal Pilson: "It's a question of setting expectation levels. I'm sure Comcast and GE and NBC have had discussions about the upcoming negotiations, and I would think that given the importance of the Olympics to NBC, Comcast would support an NBC effort to retain that franchise." But with ESPN/ABC expected to bid as well, SNL Kagan senior analyst Deana Myers said, "The last few Olympics have been break-even or just a little profit. It makes sense for the Olympics to be on a sports network because they can (amortize) more of the content" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 2/8 issue).
Davis Little Known In The U.S. Despite
His Successful Speedskating Career
OLYMPIC AMBASSADOR: In Seattle, Ron Judd wrote there is a reason U.S. speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno is the "first guy you see when NBC starts endlessly pitching the 2010 Vancouver Games to the public." Ohno has "grown, before our eyes, from a precocious little inline-skate punk" into a "literal Olympics ambassador -- a role which, at the advanced age of 27, he takes quite seriously." Ohno's "off-ice exploits have given him the sort of fame that few Olympians achieve," and "unlike most Winter Olympians, Ohno has enough sponsorship money to keep financially comfortable." But "despite what he calls 'a lot of green lights in the Hollywood area,' especially after winning" ABC's "Dancing With The Stars," Ohno "chose instead to return for one last shot at Olympic glory" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/7).
MAKING THE GAMES HER OWN? The CP's Jim Morris write U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn "easily could become the international face" of the Vancouver Games if you combine her "persona with her potential to win three or more gold medals." NBC's Brian Williams said Vonn is the "one athlete I can think of that would be a face of the Games not only in North America but in Europe and the Far East." Williams: "She is so well known in Europe and so [dominant] in women's skiing." Morris noted NBC has "already made Vonn the centre of its marketing campaign for the Games," and "crowning an American queen of the ski hill would boost NBC's television ratings much like" swimmer Michael Phelps did during the '08 Beijing Games (CP, 2/7). "Access Hollywood" reporter Maria Menounos noted Vonn's "singular devotion to her sport combined with those Hollywood good looks has made her a rising star that may well reach Phelpsian proportion. She already has some 10 endorsement deals, but the uncontrollable course and weather conditions inherent in ski racing make the Michael Phelps comparison unfair." Menounos added, "Hollywood may be in her future … and she'd love to try 'Dancing With The Stars.'" Vonn: "I think it would be fun" ("Access Hollywood," 2/9).
FOUR PILLARS OF STRENGTH: In Dallas, Barry Horn noted NBC is depending on Davis, Ohno, Vonn and snowboarder Shaun White "to help hype its coverage." All four athletes "should all be center stage on prime time Feb. 17, which some in the NBC family are referring to as 'White Hot Wednesday'" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/7).
AROUND THE RINGS' Mackin & Hula reported there is increased speculation "that a second cauldron will be lit in Vancouver for the Olympics, one outdoors, in addition to the caldron for the opening ceremony under the dome of BC Place." The additional torch cauldron is "believed to be set in a waterfront plaza next to the International Broadcast Centre." A flame "would allow broadcasters to use a 'beauty shot' of the flame against the sea and the snow-capped mountains to the north, a view the caldron inside BC Place does not afford." VANOC VP/Communications Renee Smith-Valade confirmed that a cauldron also is "planned for Whistler, site of ski and sliding events" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 2/8).
Nike's Medal Stand Outfit Expected
To Be Most-Photographed Uniform
CRAVE THE WAVE: In Boston, Thomas Grillo reported Ocean Spray has begun to "pour 13 million cranberries into a floating display -- in the shape of the Canadian Olympic Committee logo -- in the city of Richmond, host of the speedskating competitions, and pay tribute to that region's largest agricultural crop." The 30,000 pounds of cranberries "will come from bogs around Richmond, located 14 miles south of Vancouver" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/8).
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU: Going to Vancouver? If so, let us know if you are willing to share your perspective on the Games with THE DAILY. Also, if you plan to tweet, join us in using #olybiz, so we can follow your reports on the ground.